1. Bladder Cancer Canada has identified awareness and outreach to be a critical priority in 2021. We know that 80,000 Canadians are living with bladder cancer and that our community base consists of approximately 10% of these patients. BCC is strategizing new communications and awareness initiatives to target newer audiences that currently may not be aware of BCC or even bladder cancer in general. This includes the launch of a bladder cancer blog in December of 2020 and a podcast for Bladder Cancer Awareness Month in May 2021. BCC also continues to discover impactful stories of young patients through social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, which is helping us reach a much younger Canadian demographic.
2. Many pharmaceutical companies that collaborate and keep in dialogue with Bladder Cancer Canada continue to make great progress in improving the quality of care for bladder cancer patients in Canada. Most recently, this includes Health Canada’s approval of Verity Pharmaceuticals’ production and distribution of the BCG Russian strain (which will be available to Canadians this year), as well as the approval of EMD Serono/Pfizer’s Avelumab as maintenance therapy in Metastatic Bladder Cancer. Bladder Cancer Canada worked closely with these pharmaceutical companies in the distribution of this important information to our patient community, and providing BCC spokespeople and patient stories for media opportunities, as requested. BCC also worked with AstraZeneca on the New Normal Same Cancer campaign, to raise awareness amongst Canadians that their cancer advocacy efforts, treatment and care must continue despite the global impact of COVID-19.
3. Despite the impact and challenges of the COVID pandemic, the Bladder Cancer Forum with the Canadian Clinical Research Group was held virtually in Canada in February 2021, following two other translational research meetings held in 2020 (April and October). This forum will be the foundational work of the Canadian Bladder Cancer Research Network, which launched in April 2020.
4. Canada is showing great progress in organ preservation for bladder cancer, through two international trials, one on BCG unresponsive disease (Dr. Peter Black) and the other on bladder preservation for muscle invasive disease (Dr. Wes Kassouf).
5. Bladder Cancer Canada continues to fund research as one of its three organizational pillars. Bladder Cancer Canada’s research grants are funding the following two studies: ctDNA-FGFR status as a predictive biomarkerfor FGFR targeted therapy (Dr. Bernie Eigl) and Computer-aided Discovery of a Specific Inhibitor of Notch-2 in Bladder Cancer (Dr. Peter Black). The following two research studies are also being funded by Bladder Cancer Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Urological Association Scholarship Foundation: Exploring the tumour immune environment of bladder cancer (Dr. Robert Siemens, Tizianna Cotechini, Charles Hindmarch and Parvin Mousavi) and Role of bisphenol compounds (BPA and BPS) in the progression of bladder cancer (Drs. Stephane Bolduc, Martin Pelletier, Frederic Pouliot). Bladder Cancer Canada is allocating $100K for research grants in 2021, which will be matched by the Canadian Urological Association (CUA) for a total of $200K. These funds will be divided into four $25K grants and two $50K grants adjudicated by a panel of peers.